As we have entered with a change of season and beers such as Oktoberfest Lagers, Marzens, Spiced beers and yes pumpkin we may forget about another wonderful seasonal that is my favourite- Wet Hop Beer!
If you haven't heard of it let me explain as it is a must try and available way more readily than it used to be and with most hop yards harvesting a couple weeks back they are starting to hit the market and awaiting you to savour.
As I am sure you know by this point in following Hops are the flower of the hop plant—the resin-packed cones—and they resemble small green pinecones or their cousin mary-jane. Their bitterness provides the counterpoint to the sweetness of most malts, and can provide the juicy tropical and piney notes that make us hop fanatics!
Many IPAs, and beer in general, are made with hops that are dried and in a pelletized format, while wet-hopped beers are made with fresh hops added within hours of picking, still wet and sticky from the bine they spent the season growing on. This can also depend a lot on the harvest as mother nature has been playing with us a lot these last few seasons. As hops are only harvested once a year, and need to be brewed with within 24-48 hours of picking, before they dry out and often breweries use them the same day they receive them.
So how does it taste?
There are now dozens of wet-hopped beers on the market and I highly suggest trying as many as you can get your hands on as it is cool to taste the difference between them and get a new flavour aspect on the hop variety fresh over pelletized. I would like to say its like chewing on fresh hops but that actually wouldn't be that delicious but regardless think freshness in a glass and as always drink sooner than later as the flavour and aroma of the hops will start to fade.
With so many breweries surrounding Ontario at the moment I am probably behind on some of them that have brewed this style but here is a list of some that I know you can get and Mom and Hops site also has a great list here that includes hop yards used and release dates!
Nickel Brook Wet Hop Ale
This is one of the first ones I ever tried and may be partially responsible for me falling in deeper love with hops. It was earlier in my journey and was so refreshingly fresh it caused me to explore more about hops and exactly what they did to create this goodness. Conveniently available at the LCBO as well there is no excuse not to grab one.... or ten!
Exchange Wet Hop
I have yet to try this one but with all the great beer Exchange is making in NOTL I have bumped it up on my priority list of beers to get! Brewed with fresh local hops, from Niagara which are picked within hours of boiling.
Sawdust City Wet Hop 2017: Chinook
Like a field trip the crew at Sawdust City travelled to Clear Valley Hop Farm in Nottawa, ON on the morning of September 8th to help harvest the Chinook Hops that were used that day to create this years brew.
Bicycle Craft Brewery City Hops Harvest Ale
Located in Ottawa, ON Bicycle is also in on the wet hop beers using fresh Ottawa hops! I learned this beer is already SOLD OUT so goes to show you I am not the only one seeking out fresh beer :)
Sending out good vibes to all the local hop farmers as it is no easy task to run a hop yard and there is a lot of manual labour and love involved. I had the recent chance to visit Steel Wheel Hop Yard (soon to be brewery) in Brant County and they were the focus of my recent Think Beer segment on Rogers TV. Check it out below!
Fresh is always best and beer is no exception!